Thousand mile slide toward Puerto Vallarta

Published on March 16th, 2014

(March 16, 2014) – The 32nd edition of the biennial San Diego to Vallarta International Yacht Race started off Shelter Island, with Class 3 and 4 leaving on Friday (Mar. 14) and Class 1, 2, and Multihull departing on Saturday (Mar. 15). Both days provided summer-like conditions for the 23 entrants to begin their 1000 mile southerly slide toward beautiful Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

The first retiree came quickly, with Brack Duker’s Santa Cruz 70 Holua losing their prop within the first hour of sailing on Saturday. The remaining 22 teams extended offshore on offwind angles, gybing back toward layline at about 160 nm down the track.

The two multihulls, MOD70 Orion and ORMA 60 Mighty Merloe, have now passed all the Friday starters, both posting speeds today in the 20 knot range. In general, wind strength appears to be better for the Friday starters, which lead the Saturday group by roughly 200 miles.

“So far the 2014 San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race has been pretty much textbook,” observed Wayne Zittel onboard the Santa Cruz 50 J World’s Hula Girl. “We started on Friday in a nice westerly, close reaching past Point Loma and into the Pacific. Before we had gotten to the Coronado Islands we were in the Code 0, then shortly thereafter the first spinnaker came up. We carried the 2A into the night, and wow, what a night. Steady 12-14 knots and a nearly full moon lit up the slightly cloudy sky. As we work south, the sky gets clearer and the water bluer.”

The tracker shows teams trading gybes along the Baja peninsula. “The winds have been steady enough but shifty,” notes Karen Jewell onboard the Santa Cruz 50 Deception. “At night, we have plenty of moonlight to keep the spinnaker in check and the stars and Pacific White Sided Dolphins keep us company. But there is way too much kelp out here.”

Race websiteTrackerStarting photos

Received on March 16 (18:33 PT) from Peter Isler, navigator on the MOD 70 Orion…

Getting ready for the second sunset in this year’s SD to PV ocean race. 1000 miles, usually downwind to tropical climes. Usually – that is, in a monohull, I would still be putting on my thermals for another chilly night but these boats travel at warp speed, and the temps have improved nicely as we plot our tactics to get through the lee of Cabo San Lucas – tonite! We are two days ahead of where a boat usually is a day and a half into the race.

How fast is fast? Unofficially – we did 606nm over the bottom in the first 24 hours – that’s over a 25kt average. But as I said, the race is downwind, so we did plenty of jibing, and our point to point run is still an impressive 472nm.

I’ve sailed on some fast monohulls.. but this MOD 70 is a whole other animal. As I type this in the nav station – the speedo is at 30 knots. Inside the boat you really feel like you are on the inside of a roller coaster… quick twists and turns can send you flying all 5 feet from the left side of the boat to the right side.

The team is pushing the boat hard and we have enjoyed a great race with Mighty Merloe – the 60 foot trimaran that just came to the west coast…. now these are the ultimate fast is fun machines!

Time to plot our passage through the dreaded lee of Cabo.

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